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Second Talc Powder Verdict

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Johnson & Johnson hit with second verdict linking talc products to ovarian cancer

A second jury in City of St. Louis Circuit Court found Johnson & Johnson liable for injuries resulting from the use of its talc-containing products such as Johnson’s Baby Powder and  Shower to Shower body powder for feminine hygiene. The jury awarded Plaintiff Gloria Ristesund $55 million after agreeing the products contributed to the development of her ovarian cancer. The verdict includes $5 million in actual damages and $50 million in punitive damages.

Ms. Ristesund, 62, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011, after using Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for feminine hygiene for more than 40 years.

“This second jury verdict affirms that Johnson & Johnson knew that its talcum powder products posed a risk to women’s health, but they did nothing to warn the public,” said Beasley Allen lawyer Ted Meadows, who has been on the forefront of this litigation. “There are safer alternatives made with cornstarch, which Johnson & Johnson also sells. There really was no reason for them to leave this product on the market. At the very least, they could have added a warning label to alert women to the risk of ovarian cancer. This verdict sends a message that the public is tired of corporations placing their profits over our health and trust.”

In February, another City of St. Louis Circuit Court jury awarded the family of Plaintiff Jacqueline Fox $72 million after agreeing the products contributed to the development of her ovarian cancer. That verdict included $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages.

An estimated 20,000 women are diagnosed each year with ovarian cancer, and more than 14,000 die. The disease strikes about one in 70 women, though studies show that women who use talc-containing products on their genitals have a one in 50 chance of developing the disease. An expert at trial testified at least 45,000 women have died as a result of ovarian  cancer that could be attributed to talcum powder use on the genitals, and estimated 1,500 women will die within the next year as a result of talc use.

Documents shown to the jury during the trial indicated that Johnson & Johnson’s own experts advised the company that numerous scientific studies supported a link between genital use of talcum powder and increased risk of ovarian cancer. In a letter dated in 1997, Dr. Alfied Wehner warns a J&J executive that anyone who continued to deny the evidence presented by these studies “. . .will be perceived by the public like it perceives the cigarette industry: denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”


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